In 2023? Some Schools In The South Still Allow Paddling As A Form Of Student Discipline

In 2023? Some Schools In The South Still Allow Paddling As A Form Of Student Discipline

In more than 15 states across the country, paddling is still an option for student discipline in schools, the Washington Post reports.

Primarily in the South, children can receive paddling, or corporal punishment, for several reasons, including talking too much, disrupting class, breaking rules, or being late. According to the Civil Rights Data Collection, Mississippi has been at the top of listed states for years, using that form of punishment over others often. Scott County School District has recorded more than 630 incidents during the 2022-2023 school year. Prentiss County used paddling 34 times, amounting to once every week.

School corporal punishment is a physical disciplinary method made to correct student misbehavior. Gaining popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, students were paddled or “spanked” by a district superintendent or school principal.

Critics claim the practice is underreported and varies by race and gender. Black boys are twice as likely to be paddled or struck at school over white boys. Students with disabilities also face a greater risk.

Missouri made headlines in early 2023 when Cassville R-IV School District reinstated paddling to its discipline policy, according to Missouri Independent. The move came after a new state law regarding student discipline required school districts to get written parent permission to give swats before doing so. Districts implementing corporal punishment are expected to send permission slips at the beginning of the school year.

Some district officials were on the fence. Pamela Halstead, administrator of Callao C-8 School District, said that corporal punishment is the last resort. She admitted that the last time she swatted a student was almost 10 years ago at a parent’s request. “I know we’re probably one of a few districts that do keep corporal punishment on there,” Halstead said. “We keep that as an option. Is it going to be the first option? No, not even the second.”

Psychologists and advocates say not only is paddling extreme, but it’s also ineffective in behavior change or learning from mistakes. The practice can cause a misunderstanding of childhood trauma and shows commonality in adults. Studies show adults who were spanked as kids often show antisocial behavior and mental health problems.